Imps 0 Portsmouth 2

City battled to the end but came up just short in their quest for a Sky Bet League One play-off place as they were defeated by the league champions Portsmouth at the LNER Stadium.

Despite early Pompey possession, City created the first opportunity of the contest as a smart free-kick routine saw Danny Mandroiu dummy the ball through to Lasse Sorensen on the edge of the box, with the Dane’s strike whistling just past the post.

After 13 minutes Mandroiu swung a free-kick into the box which Paudie O’Connor got on the end of, but the centre-half couldn’t direct his effort goalwards.

The visitors’ first chance presented itself when Jack Sparkes’ cross fell to the feet of Colby Bishop but he scuffed his effort wide.

Portsmouth had the ball in the back of the net after 22 minutes when Tino Anjorin half-volleyed home from outside the box but a collision between Jensen and Bishop in the build-up saw the strike chalked off.

Sky Bet League One’s champions were gaining momentum, and it took crucial blocks from both Jensen and Adam Jackson to deny the south-coast side from taking the lead just before the half-hour.

Ryley Towler received the first caution of the match when Pompey ceded possession in their own half, with Towler pulling Mandroiu back as he advanced towards the 18-yard box.

Myles Peart-Harris then also picked up a yellow card for his protestations.

From the resulting free-kick Mandroiu picked out Alex Mitchell at the far post who went for an acrobatic effort, but it was blocked and cleared away from danger.

Joe Taylor was City’s first recipient of a booking when he slid in late on Ryley Towler in the 42nd minute.

After the break the Imps almost took the lead, with Ben House unable to control his effort after Paudie O’Connor hit the crossbar from a free-kick.

City were then awarded a penalty when Mandroiu was bundled over in the box, but the Irishman’s spot-kick was well saved by Will Norris to keep the scores level.

Taylor rose highest from a Mandroiu corner in the 63rd minute but he was unable to test Norris.

Jensen made an unbelievable save to keep it goalless when Sparkes appeared to have rounded him, but the Dane somehow managed to stretch and push the winger’s effort over the crossbar.

As the Imps pushed forward in search of a goal, Portsmouth struck on the counter-attack with Sparkes playing it into the feet of Peart-Harris who slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

In the fifth minute of injury time Jensen saved from Sparkes to ensure the Imps remained just a goal behind.

Portsmouth sealed victory when Paddy Lane struck into an empty net after Jensen had made a superb stop to push Kamara's initial effort onto the post.

Imps: Lukas Jensen, Alex Mitchell (Tyler Walker 79’), Paudie O’Connor, Adam Jackson (Dylan Duffy 57’), Ethan Ethahon, Danny Mandroiu, Ben House (Jack Moylan 86’), Lasse Sorensen, Sean Roughan, Joe Taylor, Freddie Draper (Jovon Makama 57’).

Subs (not used): Jordan Wright, Jack Burroughs, TJ Eyoma.

Portsmouth: Will Norris, Ryley Towler, Colby Bishop (Christian Saydee 65’), Joe Rafferty, Conor Shaughnessy, Jack Sparkes, Tom Lowery (Owen Moxon 59’), Tino Anjorin (Kesini Yengi 65’), Paddy Lane, Myles Peart-Harris (Terry Devlin 90’), Callum Lang (Abu Kamara 65’).

Subs (not used): Matt Macey, Conor Oglivie.

Goals: Peart-Harris (81), Lane (90+11).